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Narrative Pt. XII: The Subpoena

From independent counsel Kenneth Starr's report to the House on President Clinton. Some of the language in these documents is sexually explicit.

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XII. December 19, 1997 - January 4, 1998:

The Subpoena

Ms. Lewinsky was served with a subpoena in the Jones case on Friday, December 19. She immediately called Mr. Jordan, and he invited her to his office. Mr. Jordan spoke with the President that afternoon and again that evening. He told the President that he had met with Ms. Lewinsky, that she had been subpoenaed, and that he planned to obtain an attorney for her. On Sunday, December 28, the President met with Ms. Lewinsky, who expressed concern about the subpoena's demand for the gifts he had given her. Later that day, Ms. Currie drove to Ms. Lewinsky's apartment and collected a box containing some of the subpoenaed gifts. Ms. Currie took the box home and hid it under her bed.

A. December 19: Ms. Lewinsky Is Subpoenaed

On Friday, December 19, 1997, sometime between 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m., Ms. Lewinsky was served with a subpoena at her Pentagon office.(796) The subpoena commanded her to appear for a deposition in Washington, D.C., at 9:30 a.m. on January 23, 1998.(797) The subpoena also required the production of certain documents and gifts. Among the items that Ms. Lewinsky was required to produce were "each and every gift including, but not limited to, any and all dresses, accessories, and jewelry, and/or hat pins given to you by, or on behalf of, Defendant Clinton," as well as "[e]very document constituting or containing communications between you and Defendant Clinton, including letters, cards, notes, memoranda, and all telephone records."(798)

   


Ms. Lewinsky testified that, after being served with the subpoena, she "burst into tears," and then telephoned Mr. Jordan from a pay phone at the Pentagon.(799) Mr. Jordan confirmed Ms. Lewinsky's account; he said he tried to reassure Ms. Lewinsky: "[C]ome and talk to me and I will see what I can do about finding you counsel."(800)

According to records maintained by Mr. Jordan's law firm, Ms. Lewinsky arrived at his office at 4:47 p.m.(801) White House phone records show that, at 4:57 p.m., the President telephoned Mr. Jordan; the two men spoke from 5:01 p.m. to 5:05 p.m.(802) At 5:06 p.m., Mr. Jordan placed a two-minute call to a Washington, D.C., attorney named Francis Carter.(803)

Ms. Lewinsky and Mr. Jordan gave somewhat different accounts of their meeting that day. According to Ms. Lewinsky, shortly after her arrival, Mr. Jordan received a phone call, and she stepped out of his office. A few minutes later, Ms. Lewinsky was invited back in, and Mr. Jordan called Mr. Carter.(804)

Mr. Jordan testified that he spoke to the President before Ms. Lewinsky ever entered his office.(805) He told the President: "Monica Lewinsky called me up. She's upset. She's gotten a subpoena. She is coming to see me about this subpoena. I'm confident that she needs a lawyer, and I will try to get her a lawyer."(806) Mr. Jordan told the President that the lawyer he had in mind was Francis Carter.(807) According to Mr. Jordan, the President asked him: "You think he's a good lawyer?" Mr. Jordan responded that he was.(808) Mr. Jordan testified that informing the President of Ms. Lewinsky's subpoena "was the purpose of [his] call."(809)

According to Mr. Jordan, when Ms. Lewinsky entered his office, "[H]er emotional state was obviously one of dishevelment and she was quite upset. She was crying. She was -- she was highly emotional, to say the least."(810) She showed him the subpoena as soon as she entered.(811)

Ms. Lewinsky also testified that she discussed the subpoena with Mr. Jordan.(812) She told him that she found the specific reference to a hat pin alarming -- how could the Jones's attorneys have known about it?(813) Mr. Jordan told her it was "a standard subpoena."(814) When he indicated to Ms. Lewinsky that he would be seeing the President that night, Ms. Lewinsky told him "to please make sure that he told the President" about her subpoena.(815)

At some point, according to Mr. Jordan, Ms. Lewinsky asked him about the future of the Clintons' marriage.(816) Because Ms. Lewinsky seemed "mesmerized" by President Clinton,(817) he "asked her directly had there been any sexual relationship between [her] and the President."(818) Mr. Jordan explained, "You didn't have to be Einstein to know that that was a question that had to be asked by me at that particular time, because heretofore this discussion was about a job. The subpoena changed the circumstances."(819) Ms. Lewinsky said she had not had a sexual relationship with the President.(820)

Ms. Lewinsky testified, however, that at this time she assumed that Mr. Jordan knew "with a wink and a nod that [she] was having a relationship with the President."(821) She therefore interpreted Mr. Jordan's questions as "What are you going to say?" rather than "What are the [actual] answers . . .?"(822) When the meeting ended, she "asked [Mr. Jordan] if he would give the President a hug."(823)

That evening, Mr. Jordan visited the President at the White House. According to Mr. Jordan, the two met alone in the Residence and talked for about ten minutes.(824) He testified:

I told him that Monica Lewinsky had been subpoenaed, came to me with a subpoena. I told him that I was concerned by her fascination, her being taken with him. I told him how emotional she was about having gotten the subpoena. I told him what she said to me about whether or not he was going to leave the First Lady at the end of the term.(825)

Mr. Jordan asked the President "[t]he one question that I wanted answered."(826) That question was, "Mr. President, have you had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky?" The President told Mr. Jordan, "No, never."(827)

Mr. Jordan told the President: "I'm trying to help her get a job and I'm going to continue to do that. I'm going to get her counsel and I'm going to try to be helpful to her as much as I possibly can, both with the lawyer, and I've already done what I could about the job, and I think you ought to know that."(828) Mr. Jordan testified: "He thanked me for telling him. Thanked me for my efforts to get her a job and thanked me for getting her a lawyer."(829)

In his grand jury testimony, the President recalled that he met with Mr. Jordan on December 19; however, he testified that his memory of that meeting was somewhat vague:

I do not remember exactly what the nature of the conversation was. I do remember that I told him that there was no sexual relationship between me and Monica Lewinsky, which was true. And that -- then all I remember for the rest is that he said he had referred her to a lawyer, and I believe it was Mr. Carter.(830)

Asked whether he recalled that Mr. Jordan told him that Ms. Lewinsky appeared fixated on him and hoped that he would leave Mrs. Clinton, the President testified: "I recall him saying he thought that she was upset with -- somewhat fixated on me, that she acknowledged that she was not having a sexual relationship with me, and that she did not want to be [brought] into that Jones lawsuit."(831)

B. December 22: Meeting with Vernon Jordan

   


Mr. Jordan arranged for Ms. Lewinsky to meet with attorney Francis Carter at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, December 22.(832) On that morning, according to Ms. Lewinsky, she called Mr. Jordan and asked to meet before they went to Mr. Carter's office.(833) She testified: "I was a little concerned. I thought maybe [Mr. Jordan] didn't really understand . . . what it was that was happening here with me being subpoenaed and what this really meant."(834) She also wanted to find out whether he had in fact told the President of her subpoena. Mr. Jordan said that he had.(835) Ms. Lewinsky also told Mr. Jordan that she was worried that someone might have been eavesdropping on her telephone conversations with the President.(836) When Mr. Jordan asked why she thought that would be of concern, Ms. Lewinsky said, "Well, we've had phone sex."(837)

Ms. Lewinsky testified that she brought some of her gifts from the President, showed them to Mr. Jordan, and implied that these items were not all of the gifts that the President had given her.(838) Mr. Jordan, in contrast, testified that Ms. Lewinsky never showed him any gifts from the President.(839)

C. December 22: First Meeting with Francis Carter

Mr. Jordan drove Ms. Lewinsky to Mr. Carter's office.(840) There, he introduced Ms. Lewinsky to Mr. Carter, explaining that she needed not only a lawyer but a "counselor."(841) Mr. Carter testified that, after the initial referral, he expected to have no further contact with Mr. Jordan about Ms. Lewinsky or her case.(842)

Mr. Carter and Ms. Lewinsky then met for approximately an hour.(843) She explained that she did not want to be drawn into the Jones case and would strongly prefer not to be deposed.(844) He said that he would try to persuade Paula Jones's attorneys not to depose her.(845) Ms. Lewinsky testified that she suggested filing an affidavit to avert a deposition.(846)

According to Ms. Lewinsky, she asked Mr. Carter to get in touch with the President's personal attorney, Robert Bennett, just "to let him know that I had been subpoenaed in this case."(847) She wanted to make clear that she was "align[ing] [her]self with the President's side."(848) Mr. Carter testified that, while Ms. Lewinsky was in his office, he placed a call to Mr. Bennett to arrange a meeting.(849)

On the morning of Tuesday, December 23, Mr. Carter met for an hour with two of the President's personal attorneys, Mr. Bennett and Katherine Sexton.(850) The President's attorneys told Mr. Carter that other witnesses had filed motions to quash their subpoenas, and they offered legal research to support such a motion.(851)

D. December 23: Clinton Denials to Paula Jones

Throughout the sexual harassment case, Ms. Jones's attorneys attempted to obtain information about President Clinton's sexual relationships with any woman other than his wife. On December 11, 1997, the judge overseeing the Jones case, Susan Webber Wright, ruled that the President had to answer a written interrogatory naming every state and federal employee since 1986 with whom he had sexual relations or with whom he had proposed to have sexual relations. On December 23, 1997, the President answered the interrogatory: "None."(852)

E. December 28: Final Meeting with the President

A day or two after Christmas, Ms. Lewinsky called Ms. Currie and told her that the President had mentioned that he had presents for her.(853) Ms. Currie called back and told her to come to the White House at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, December 28.(854)

That morning, Ms. Lewinsky met with the President in the Oval Office. WAVES records reflect that the visit was requested by Ms. Currie and that Ms. Lewinsky entered the White House at 8:16 a.m.(855)

After she arrived at the Oval Office, she, the President, and Ms. Currie played with Buddy, the President's dog, and chatted. Then, the President took her to the study and gave her several Christmas presents: a marble bear's head, a Rockettes blanket, a Black Dog stuffed animal, a small box of chocolates, a pair of joke sunglasses, and a pin with a New York skyline on it.(856)

Ms. Lewinsky testified that, during this visit, she and the President had a "passionate" and "physically intimate" kiss.(857)

Ms. Lewinsky and the President also talked about the Jones case.(858) In Ms. Lewinsky's account, she asked the President "how he thought [she] got put on the witness list."(859) He speculated that Linda Tripp or one of the uniformed Secret Service officers had told the Jones attorneys about her.(860) When Ms. Lewinsky mentioned her anxiety about the subpoena's reference to a hat pin, he said "that sort of bothered [him], too."(861) He asked whether she had told anyone about the hat pin, and she assured him that she had not.(862)

At some point in the conversation, Ms. Lewinsky told the President, "[M]aybe I should put the gifts away outside my house somewhere or give them to someone, maybe Betty."(863) Ms. Lewinsky recalled that the President responded either "I don't know" or "Let me think about that."(864)

When Ms. Lewinsky was asked whether she thought it odd for the President to give her gifts under the circumstances (with a subpoena requiring the production of all his gifts), she testified that she did not think of it at the time, but she did note some hesitancy on the President's part:

[H]e had hesitated very briefly right before I left that day in kind of packaging . . . all my stuff back up . . . I don't think he said anything that indicated this to me, but I thought to myself, "I wonder if he's thinking he shouldn't give these to me to take out." But he did.(865)

When asked in the Jones deposition about his last meeting with Ms. Lewinsky, the President remembered only that she stopped by "[p]robably sometime before Christmas" and he "stuck [his] head out [of the office], said hello to her."(866) The deposition occurred three weeks after this December 28 meeting with Ms. Lewinsky.

In the grand jury, the President acknowledged "talking with Ms. Lewinsky about her testimony, or about the prospect that she might have to give testimony. And she, she talked to me about that."(867) He maintained, however, that they did not discuss Ms. Lewinsky's subpoena: "[S]he was upset. She -- well, she -- we -- she didn't -- we didn't talk about a subpoena. But she was upset."(868) In the President's recollection, Ms. Lewinsky said she knew nothing about sexual harassment; why did she have to testify? According to the President, "I explained to her that it was a political lawsuit. They wanted to get whatever they could under oath that was damaging to me."(869)

Ms. Lewinsky's friend, Catherine Allday Davis, testified about a conversation with Ms. Lewinsky on January 3, 1998. Ms. Lewinsky told Ms. Davis that she had met with the President and discussed the Jones case a few days earlier. Ms. Davis testified that Ms. Lewinsky and the President had "noted [that] there was no evidence" of their relationship.(870)

E. December 28: Concealment of Gifts

In the afternoon of December 28, a few hours after Ms. Lewinsky's White House visit, Ms. Currie drove to Ms. Lewinsky's Watergate apartment and collected a box containing the President's gifts. Ms. Currie then took the box home and hid it under her bed. Ms. Lewinsky, Ms. Currie, and the President were all questioned as to why Ms. Currie retrieved the box of gifts from Ms. Lewinsky.

According to Ms. Lewinsky, the transfer originated in a phone call from Ms. Currie that afternoon. Ms. Lewinsky testified that Ms. Currie said, "I understand you have something to give me," or, "The President said you have something to give me."(871) Ms. Lewinsky understood that Ms. Currie was alluding to the gifts.(872) Ms. Currie said that she would stop by Ms. Lewinsky's apartment and pick up the items.(873) Ms. Lewinsky testified that she put many, but not all, of her gifts from the President into a box. Ms. Currie drove by her apartment and picked it up.(874)

Ms. Lewinsky was concerned because the gifts were under subpoena; she did not throw them away, however, because "they meant a lot to [her]."(875) The reason she gave the gifts to Ms. Currie, and not to one of her friends or her mother, was "a little bit of an assurance to the President . . . that everything was okay."(876) She felt that, because the gifts were with Ms. Currie, they were within the President's control: "Not that [the gifts] were going to be in his possession, but that he would understand whatever it was I gave to Betty and that that might make him feel a little bit better."(877)

Ms. Lewinsky's account of the events of December 28 in her sworn statement of February 1, 1998, corroborates her later grand jury testimony:

"Ms. L . . . asked if she should put away (outside her home) the gifts he had given her or, maybe, give them to someone else. Ms. Currie called Ms. L later that afternoon as said that the Pres. had told her Ms. L. wanted her to hold onto something for her. Ms. L boxed up most of the gifts she had received and gave them to Ms. Currie. It is unknown if Ms. Currie knew the contents of the box."(878)

Ms. Currie's testimony was somewhat at odds with Ms. Lewinsky's. Though her overall recollection was hazy, Ms. Currie believed that Ms. Lewinsky had called her and raised the idea of the gifts transfer.(879) Ms. Currie was asked about the President's involvement in the transfer:

Q: And did the President know you were holding these things for Monica?

BC: I don't know. I don't know.

Q: Didn't he say to you that Monica had something for you to hold?

BC: I don't remember that. I don't.

Q: Did you ever talk to the President and tell him you had this box from Monica?

BC: I don't remember that either.

Q: Do you think it happened, though?

BC: I don't know. I don't know.(880)

When asked whether a statement by Ms. Lewinsky indicating that Ms. Currie had in fact spoken to the President about the gift transfer would be false, Ms. Currie replied: "Then she may remember better than I. I don't remember."(881)

According to Ms. Currie, Ms. Lewinsky said that she was uncomfortable retaining the gifts herself because "people were asking questions" about them.(882) Ms. Currie said she drove to Ms. Lewinsky's residence after work, collected the box, brought it home, and put it under her bed.(883) Written on the top of the box were the words "Please do not throw away!!!"(884) Ms. Currie testified that she knew that the box contained gifts from the President.(885)

For his part, the President testified that he never asked Ms. Currie to collect a box of gifts from Ms. Lewinsky.(886) He said that he had no knowledge that Ms. Currie had held those items "until that was made public."(887)

The President testified that he has no distinct recollection of discussing the gifts with Ms. Lewinsky on December 28: "[M]y memory is that on some day in December, and I'm sorry I don't remember when it was, she said, well, what if they ask me about the gifts you have given me. And I said, well, if you get a request to produce those, you have to give them whatever you have."(888)

D. December 31: Breakfast with Vernon Jordan

Ms. Lewinsky testified that in late December 1997 she realized that she needed to "come up with some sort of strategy as to [what to do] if Linda Tripp" divulged what she knew.(889) On December 30, Ms. Lewinsky telephoned Mr. Jordan's office and conveyed either directly to him or through one of his secretaries that she was concernedabout the Jones case.(890)

The following day, Ms. Lewinsky and Mr. Jordan had breakfast together at the Park Hyatt Hotel.(891) According to Ms. Lewinsky, she told Mr. Jordan that a friend of hers, Linda Tripp, was involved in the Jones case. She told Mr. Jordan: "I used to trust [Ms. Tripp], but I didn't trust her any more."(892) Ms. Lewinsky said that Ms. Tripp might have seen some notes in her apartment. Mr. Jordan asked: "Notes from the President to you?" Ms. Lewinsky responded: "No, notes from me to the President." According to Ms. Lewinsky, Mr. Jordan said: "Go home and make sure they're not there." Ms. Lewinsky testified that she understood that Mr. Jordan was advising her to "throw . . . away" any copies or drafts of notes that she had sent to the President.(893)

After breakfast, Mr. Jordan gave Ms. Lewinsky a ride back to his office.(894) When Ms. Lewinsky returned home to her apartment that day, she discarded approximately 50 draft notes to the President.(895)

E. January 4: The Final Gift

On Sunday, January 4, 1998, Ms. Lewinsky called Ms. Currie at home and told her that she wanted to drop off a gift for the President.(896) Ms. Currie invited Ms. Lewinsky to her home, and Ms. Lewinsky gave her the package.(897) The package contained a book entitled The Presidents of the United States and a love note inspired by the movie Titanic.(898)

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